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The Latest News From Minnesota Daily News Dot Com

9th May 2015
news

Friday morning officials from the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs gathered with military and elected officials for the first raising of the POW/MIA flag at the Capitol Veterans Memorial Garden in St. Paul. The flag was placed there at the request of State Rep. John Persell (DFL – Bemidji)

 
"It didn't seem right that there was no flag in the memorial garden commemorating our military service members who never came home," said Rep. Persell (DFL—Bemidji). "There is a POW/MIA flag on the North side of the Capitol building, but it can't be seen from the Veterans Memorial Garden.  Now when Minnesotans come here to pay their respects and remember, there is a flag they can see."
 
Rep. Persell had considered offering legislation to force the Department of Administration to raise a flag at the garden, but that wasn't necessary.
 
"In the end, I found support for this effort, particularly from Commissioner Shellito and Lt. Governor Smith, and Commissioner Massman" said Rep. Persell. "Folks in the administration understood why it was important and necessary to get the flag up."


4th May 2015
news

Bemidji Fire Department and Minnesota DNR Firefighters responded to a three wildland fires in the Bemidji area on Saturday. No injuries or structural damage from the fires was reported. Two of the fires required the use of firefighting aircraft to provide assistance with extinguishment. The largest fire, which was located on Adelia DR SE, did involve the evacuation of some homes as a precaution. The cause of the three fires included; campfire from the previous evening, children playing with matches, and hot exhaust from a vehicle. The Bemidji area was under a Red Flag warning with Extreme Fire Danger rating on Saturday. Assistance was provided to the fire department and DNR from multiple agencies, including; Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, Beltrami County Office of Emergency Management, Minnesota State Patrol, Solway Fire Department, Bemidji Police Department, and Bemidji Ambulance.



25th April 2015
news

Optivation, a custom college and outreach training program jointly operated by Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College, has won a $49,572 grant from the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership program to develop a series of employee training programs for Bemidji-based Lueken’s Inc.

Lueken’s added an aquaponics farm, which allows the store to grow plants and some fish on site, to its south-side Bemidji grocery store location during a recent expansion. It is one of the only grocery stores in the nation with an attached aquaponics farm.

Optivation’s training will help Lueken’s staff develop sustainable, economically viable strategies for maintaining the aquaponics farm, and provide support for education programs involving the farm. In addition, the training will present continuous performance monitoring practices to help the company anticipate future changes and manage the farm’s many biological variables.

Aquaponics is one element of a cultural shift that emphasizes sources of food that are closer to the populations they serve. In partnership with BSU’s Sustainability Office, Optivation’s training will help Lueken’s develop programs to educate Bemidji residents about aquaponically grown food and establish healthy eating initiatives. 

The training also will emphasize enterprise thinking, which will help the company consider how decision affect an entire organization rather than just a particular department.

“This workforce development grant will help Lueken’s employees understand and implement aquaponics farming and incorporate sustainability, which is valuable to their work and growth strategy,” said Kevin McKinnon, deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Lueken’s Inc. operates a number of Bemidji-based businesses, including north- and south-side locations of Lueken’s Village Foods; Novo, a local restaurant; and TJ Design Studio, a web development and graphic design company. Lueken’s has been an employee-owned organization since 2013.



24th April 2015
news

Fire investigators have determined that the recent Palsburg Fire, which burned more than 4,500 acres of wild lands in Roseau County, originated from a slash pile the Department of Natural Resources burned last fall. Slash is branches and other woody debris that remains after a logging operation.

“This shows us, that under current conditions, you can’t be too cautious,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “The state is very dry and we need to take extraordinary precautions with fire.”

Left by the logging operation in November, the DNR burned the slash pile Nov. 25 while the ground was snow-covered. Slash is burned as part of routine fire-prevention efforts and in preparing a harvested site for tree planting.

DNR foresters checked the burned pile in December, found some embers inside but determined they didn’t pose a problem because it was early winter.

Foresters checked the slash pile the week of March 16 and determined the fire was cold.

Almost five months after the pile was originally burned, on April 15, smoke was spotted in the area during a fire-detection flight.

Due to warm temperatures, low humidity and strong winds, the fire spread quickly. The active fire was controlled the next morning, but the Palsburg Fire burned 4,550 acres of mostly pine. No structures were lost or injuries reported. Nearly all the land was DNR-administered forest land; a small portion was tribal land.

Fire investigators, who are currently finalizing their reports, determined that an ember that stayed hot two feet underground in the original slash fire caused the wildfire. An extremely dry spring due to below normal snowfall and lack of rain added to the problem.

The DNR’s Forestry Division will pay the cost of putting out the Palsburg Fire, said the division’s director, Forrest Boe. “After fire investigations, parties responsible for starting a fire are held responsible for paying for fire suppression efforts. The responsible party here is the Division of Forestry,’’ Boe said.

A final cost has yet to be determined.

The DNR plans to ask an independent government agency, with relevant forestry expertise, to conduct a review of this incident. The independent reviewer hasn’t been determined yet.

Boe said it is rare for a DNR-burned slash pile to cause a wildfire.

However, the unusual weather conditions, the lack of snowfall and low humidity have led to extreme fire conditions in northwestern Minnesota this spring. The DNR is on high alert when it comes to checking on extinguished fires and others should be as well.

Boe said the DNR will learn valuable lessons from this incident and will implement any new recommended practices immediately. He said he hopes to share those lessons with others in the forestry and fire-prevention community so that incidents like this don’t happen again.

Plans for salvage of the trees left from the Palsburg Fire have already begun. Merchantable trees will be sold for forest products.



17th April 2015
news

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has issued Beltrami County a large trap range grant toward development of the Northland Regional Shooting Sports Park located off Highway 89 south of Jackpine Road. 

The $419,732 grant was the largest grant awarded to any facility across the state as part of a statewide effort to promote the development and enhancement of trap shooting facilities.

The Minnesota Legislature last year authorized more than $2 million for matching grants to recreational shooting clubs for developing or rehabilitating trap shooting sports facilities for public use, with an emphasis on enhancing youth participation opportunities.

“It’s great to see greater Minnesota receive this money. This is a fantastic opportunity to move forward in developing the Northland Regional Shooting Sports Park,” said Dick Moore, Beltrami County land commissioner and director of Beltrami County Natural Resources Department. “This is a result of a lot of hard work by so many local people dedicated to moving this project forward.”

The Northland Regional Shooting Sports Park is part of the Northland Regional Sports Park, which will be a multi-use sporting facility that promotes outdoor recreation. The Shooting Sports Park facility will serve as a firearms training center and provide a venue for youth and families to learn how to shoot, compete in local and statewide shooting sports events and develop hunting skills that ensure the future of the hunting and shooting sports tradition. It will provide safe, family-friendly recreational shooting opportunities to northwest Minnesota.

“The DNR grant, combined with a generous gift from the George W. Nielson Foundation and donations from individuals and businesses, will allow the project to break ground in 2015,” said Mark Farabee, chairman of the Headwater Shooting Sports Association. “We’ve still got a ways to go with the fundraising efforts, though.”

Farabee adds that additional funding is still required in order to complete the project’s two-year, Phase 1 range infrastructure plan. Tax-deductible gifts or pledges can be made to the Northland Regional Shooting Sports Fund through the Northwest Minnesota Foundation (www.nwmf.org).

Additional information on the Shooting Sports Park can be found at www.bemidjishooters.org and www.bemidji.trap.skeet.org.    

Development of the DNR trap grants program follows a significant rise in youth trap shooting, especially by high school students who are part of a statewide league. Existing trap ranges sometimes struggle to meet demand.

“This is great news for the Bemidji High School clay target team, as well as other school districts in the region,” said Bryan Hammitt, Bemidji High School Clay Target team coach. “Greater Bemidji area teams will be able to use the facility to compete in sectional and invitational high school clay target league matches.”

Hammitt added that the growth of the high school clay target team, now in its second year, has been phenomenal and the team has quickly become highly competitive in the statewide league.

 



14th April 2015
news

The Beltrami County Sheriff's 911 Center received a 911 call at 5:23 AM on Monday, April 13, 2015, reporting that the Blackduck Trestle, also known as the M & I Trestle and areas of the swamp surrounding it were burning. The Trestle is located on the east side of the City of Blackduck. 

Immediately responding to the fire were the Blackduck Fire Department, Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, Blackduck DNR and First Responders.  The bridge was fully engulfed.  After control of the fire was achieved, it was discovered that 200' of the 701' long trestle was completely destroyed by the Fire.

The State Fire Marshall was called to the scene and subsequent investigation involving the Blackduck Police Department, Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, Blackduck Fire and the Fire Marshall revealed the cause to be arson.  The investigation continues in this case.   

The Blackduck Trestle was built between the years of 1901-1902 by Frank O'Brien for use by the M & I Railroad, originally a subsidiary of the Northern Pacific, which was incorporated to provide a rail link between Bemidji and International Falls.   This trestle is significant for its method of construction and the considerable length required to span Coburn Creek and the surrounding marsh.  It is the longest structure on the former M & I line and is recognized as the most difficult railroad that was built.  In 1996, MN DOT took over the ownership of the trestle.  They were currently in the process of transferring ownership to the MN DNR.  

Because of the historical significance and due to the efforts of the City of Blackduck, the trestle was determined to be eligible for membership in the National Register of Historic Places.  The trestle was inducted into membership on February 5, 2014. 

 

The current value of the bridge is estimated to be $500.000.00. A picture is enclosed in this press release. 

Chief John Wilkinson, Blackduck Police Department, is asking for the public's assistance in locating the person or persons responsible for this act of vandalism that has effectively destroyed a public landmark and the use of the bridge by those who are enjoying recreational activities in the Blackduck area.  Please call 218-333-9111 if you have any information pertaining to this crime. 

Questions regarding the history of the bridge should be directed to the City Clerk, Blackduck City Hall, 218-835-4803.



13th April 2015
news

The Bemidji Fire Department and Minnesota DNR responded to four wildland fires in the Bemidji area on Saturday.  Bemidji Fire Chief Dave Hoeffer said that one of these fires destroyed a home on 149th Ave in Fern Township.  Firefighters arrived on the scene to find the home engulfed in flames, one outbuilding immediately threatened and a rapidly spreading grass fire.  Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the house and about 5 acres of grassland burnt.  The sole occupant of the home was able to escape the fire with no injuries.  Several agencies were on the scene for about 3 and a half hours.  The fire caused an estimated $73,000 in damage to the structure and its contents.  Hoefer says the cause of the fire appears to be accidental in nature and is currently under investigation.



13th April 2015
news

Congressmen Rick Nolan and Collin Petersen were at the Bemidji Regional Airport Friday afternoon, meeting with local government and business leaders, talking about Essential Air Service – a federal subsidy program that is facing an uncertain future.  The legislators heard from several local leaders about the importance of essential air service and what it would mean to Bemidji if we did not have air service located here.  Nolan said that in Bemidji, there are 43-thousand people coming in and out of Bemidji on airplanes every year and the lion’s share of those are business people.  He said that there have been business people that have said, without the air service, they would move to another city or region.  Air service, he said, is something that the region has to have.  Nolan said, there is a fight brewing over this in Washington, but there is some good bi-partisan support and they are going to fight hard to preserve it.



13th April 2015
news

The Bemidji Fire Department and Minnesota DNR responded to four wildland fires in the Bemidji area on Saturday.  Bemidji Fire Chief Dave Hoeffer said that one of these fires destroyed a home on 149th Ave in Fern Township.  Firefighters arrived on the scene to find the home engulfed in flames, one outbuilding immediately threatened and a rapidly spreading grass fire.  Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the house and about 5 acres of grassland burnt.  The sole occupant of the home was able to escape the fire with no injuries.  Several agencies were on the scene for about 3 and a half hours.  The fire caused an estimated $73,000 in damage to the structure and its contents.  Hoefer says the cause of the fire appears to be accidental in nature and is currently under investigation.



13th April 2015
news

Congressmen Rick Nolan and Collin Petersen were at the Bemidji Regional Airport Friday afternoon, meeting with local government and business leaders, talking about Essential Air Service – a federal subsidy program that is facing an uncertain future.  The legislators heard from several local leaders about the importance of essential air service and what it would mean to Bemidji if we did not have air service located here.  Nolan said that in Bemidji, there are 43-thousand people coming in and out of Bemidji on airplanes every year and the lion’s share of those are business people.  He said that there have been business people that have said, without the air service, they would move to another city or region.  Air service, he said, is something that the region has to have.  Nolan said, there is a fight brewing over this in Washington, but there is some good bi-partisan support and they are going to fight hard to preserve it.




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